Have a situation with a customer that I`m not exactly sure how to handle. (We are located in Maryland but this job was done in Virginia)

We cleaned a vehicle on a new white concrete driveway. In the process of cleaning the vehicle, we left a minor stain on the driveway.

The customer wants us to pay $2400 to get the driveway resurfaced (and threatening to sue if we don't pay). This seems extreme considering that the discoloration is minor and looks like what would naturally happen to the driveway after a few months of weathering.

I would like to get an idea of how things like this are normally resolved for when I talk to the customer again and attempt to work things out. I don't know much about law, but it seems like we might be liable for the extra wear on the driveway, like if we left it in a state similar to what it would look like after a year, we'd liable for a year of the wear?

How is liability normally calculated in this type of scenario, basically assuming that the damage is very minor but the cost of completely undoing it is the the cost of replacing the whole thing?

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    Did they hire you to clean their car on their driveway? Was the stain caused by dirt, rust, or other falling off their car? If so, I would think the stain should be their problem. If the stain was caused by oil leaking out of your equipment, that would be a different story.
    – James
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 12:07
  • They did hire us to clean the car on the driveway. The stain was caused by brake dust from cleaning the wheels. It is not an oil stain. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 16:29
  • I guess the only way for you have to avoided this would be to have driven the entire car onto a drop cloth and somehow kept the water from ever touching the driveway. Makes me wonder where your customer expected the dirty water to go. If I was a small claims judge I wouldn't give them a penny... but I'm not a lawyer.
    – James
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


The basic principle of determining actual damages is that they should restore the person to the position that they would have been in before their property was damaged. Unfortunately, that means that if you are liable (and you probably are) and resurfacing the driveway is the only way that the property can be restored then the cost of resurfacing is the amount you are liable for. You should notify your public risk insurer as this is what you pay your premiums for.

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